Friday, March 9, 2012

LSD as treatment for alcoholism? Norway scientists looking at hallucinogen therapy

Writing in Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers note drug gives insight into problems

 

By Lindsay Goldwert / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, March 9, 2012, 11:56 AM
LSD (which sometimes comes in the form of sheets of stamps, l.) is being looked at as an aid in combating alcoholism.

Turn on, tune in... stop drinking?

A group of Norwegian scientists believe that there could be a benefit to treating alcoholism with lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD.

In the 1960s and 1970s, reseachers experimented with treating mostly male patients with low doses of the hallucinogen and recorded the results. The trials revealed positive outcomes but the treatment never caught on.

Decades later, the neuroscientists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology decided to take a second look at the data.

The results were surprisingly encouraging.

On average, 59% of LSD patients and 38% of control patients who were confirmed to suffer from alcoholism showed improvement.

"It was rather common for patients to claim significant insights into their problems, to feel that they had been given a new lease on life, and to make a strong resolution to discontinue their drinking,” the researchers noted in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

There was also a similar beneficial effect on maintained abstinence from alcohol.

LSD interacts with a specific type of serotonin receptors in the brain, which may stimulate new connections and open the mind for new perspectives and possibilities.

“Given the evidence for a beneficial effect of LSD on alcoholism, it is puzzling why this treatment approach has been largely overlooked," says researcher Pal-Orjan Johansen.

The study authors concluded that one of the problems with the original studies is lack of patients to definitely prove that there was a positive outcome.

It was also tough for scientists to gain approval for LSD drug trials since the drug was declared a controlled substance with Schedule I status in 1970.

Scientists have also been analyzing the benefits of psilocybin or “magic mushrooms” on patients with depression.

Psilocybin seems to affect the medial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is hyperactive in people who suffer from depression, reports Reuters.

Ketamine, a drug which gained popularity during the rave scene of the 1990s, has also been touted for helping patients suffering from extreme forms of depression.

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